Chronology of the transition from a spreading ridge to an accretional seamount in the Marsili backarc basin (Tyrrhenian Sea)


Cocchi Luca, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Geophysics and Marine Technology Unit, Via Pezzino Basso, 2 19025, Fezzano (SP), Italy. Tel.: +39 0187 794408; fax: +39 0187 766400; e-mail:


Inversion of new high-resolution magnetic data from the Marsili seamount and the surrounding basin in the Tyrrhenian Sea reveals NNE–SSW magnetization stripes ranging from the Matuyama chron to the Brunhes chron, including the short positive Jaramillo subchron. The detailed magnetic chronology shows that from the late Matuyama (1.77 Ma), the average half spreading rate was about 1.5 cm yr−1, with a slight decrease between the Jaramillo and the Brunhes events, when the growth of the volcanic edifice overcame lateral spreading. Analysis of spreading rate and volume of erupted lava indicates that at the beginning of the Jaramillo subchron (1.07 Ma), the Marsili basin evolved from pure horizontal spreading to a superinflated seamount as a consequence of tearing of the Ionian slab. Our data give us a snapshot of the geodynamic transition from an active backarc spreading phase to the vertical accretion of the seafloor because of a radical change in the subduction dynamics.